Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC) is unable to pay its staff, blaming its revenue shortfall on novel coronavirus measures.
As a result of social distancing measures, the municipality, which has had to reduce its hours of work and have a majority of its staff remain at home, is now faced with issues such as reduced revenues and is presently finding it difficult to pay its monthly staff. Linden Mayor Waneka Arrindell explained that there has been an overall reduction in revenue collection as many people across the region are now at home.
“What has happened is that there’s a reduction in revenue collection…COVID has played a role and we’ve had a reduction in revenue at our toll booth, at the market; because as you know, (at) the market only essential workers are working. And then there’s the 6 o’clock curfew, so even the parks have reduced revenue collection,” Arrindell explained to Guyana Times on Saturday.
She added that while the Council has had to “become creative in an effort to garner revenue, the reality is that it has been unable to pay its monthly staff so far this month”.
“So, we’ve had a great dip. Last month, we were able to pay. We had to do some reshuffling of activities and such to pay. This month, however, we have not been able to pay monthly salaries. We’re trying to maintain the weekly (workers’ salary), but we haven’t been able to pay monthly,” the Mayor reiterated.
Arrindell disclosed that all of the municipality’s staff, except for its Heads of Department, are presently at home. These staff work three days a week; while the weekly paid staff have been receiving payments, the monthly paid workers in each department have not been so lucky.
The Mayor added that it was the hope of the municipality to pay all staff, whether they are at home or not, since the decision to have the staff remain at home is due to Government’s request for staff interaction to decrease in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, she said some staff have since been working from home.
“It’s not that we don’t want to pay, persons would still receive their salaries, but it’s just that at this point we are unable to do so, because we don’t have the revenue. Even the bridge tolls seemingly have reduced. This month, it’s over 50 per cent short from what we usually see from them,” she added.
Arrindell stated that at this point, the municipality did not want to put any additional strain on the public as a means of garnering revenue, hence, at this juncture, it would depend on Government to lend support.
According to Arrindell, it costs some $10 million per month to maintain the functions of the municipality, which includes providing services and paying of staff. She noted, however, that there have been calls for representation by the Guyana Association of Municipalities (GAM) of which she currently serves as president.
“From GAM level, they have responded and said they would look into it… so again the Council, we’re calling on the Ministry of Communities to represent us at the level of finance — to see if they can assist us at least with the basic salary and maintenance of the functioning of the municipality,” she noted.
The Mayor added that the Council was presently being faced with newer challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Utamu Belle)